PLATTSBURGH — Income guidelines for people qualifying for the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program have increased slightly, meaning that more individuals and families may now be eligible for benefits.
The new guidelines, which are in effect from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, allow people whose gross income is at or below 185 percent of the federal income-poverty guidelines to participate in the WIC program.
“A lot of people may not realize that even if they are making more money, they may qualify for WIC,” said Mandy Snay, supervising public-health nurse for the Clinton County Health Department.
“We actually had one family who did not qualify (during 2011-12) and did not realize that they were now eligible,” added Mary Lee Ryan, WIC program coordinator, who noted that the Health Department was able to contact the family because they were on file from applying previously.
But there may be many others who can take advantage of the increase in federal guidelines and should contact their local health department, she added.
A single person who earns $20,665 annually or $1,723 monthly is eligible for the WIC program. A family of two with an annual income of $27,991 or monthly income of $2,333 is also eligible.
Eligibility guidelines increase about $7,000 annually for each additional person in the family.
WIC is a federally funding health and nutrition program that provides funds for women, children and infants to purchase a wide range of nutritious foods, including milk, formula, dairy products, cereals, juices, fruits and vegetables.
In fact, the Clinton County Health Department is actively promoting the use of fruits and vegetables for WIC clients through a weekly informational booth set up at the Plattsburgh Farmers and Crafters Market in the downtown pavilion.
“We want to encourage the use of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet,” Snay said.
KayLeigh Raville, who organizes the informational booth for the Health Department, is there to show people how they can use produce.
“Some people don’t know what to do to make fruits and vegetables a daily part of their diet,” Snay said.
“We’ll have recipes and giveaways for people,” Raville said. “We will also be serving up free samples of tasty and healthy recipes.”
For example, the WIC table recently served samples of Green Beans Provencal, a fresh salad that includes cherry tomatoes, olives, Parmesan cheese and green beans.
“We also provide outreach information to support the Health Department as a whole,” Ryan said. “It’s an opportunity to have exposure for all of the fine programs available through the Health Department.”
Raville will also provide assistance for WIC participants in using coupons they have received through the program to purchase up to $24 worth of fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers coupons through both WIC and the Office for the Aging for seniors to use.
The Health Department is also publishing weekly recipes on its Facebook page to encourage people to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets, Raville noted.
The WIC display will be at the Plattsburgh Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Saturday through Sept. 29.
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